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The Other Career Option: Freelancing

Thanks to my regular participation on Google Plus, and an excellent circle of business colleagues and friends, I find myself looking at all kinds of interesting news and information on a daily basis. Yesterday, I read an article from The Atlantic magazine entitled "The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time" that got me to thinking about one good way for IT professionals to advance their careers, albeit outside the embrace of a traditional 9-to-5 job with health insurance and other benefits.

The Atlantic article makes a very telling point that the US workforce is undergoing a sufficiently major sea-change, where 1 in every 3 workers is self-employed nowadays. Beyond that, I've also been counseling some older IT professionals about how to restart their careers -- or in one case, to return from retirement to rebuild a nest egg depleted by 5 years of less-than-stellar investment returns. Along the way, I've come to the inescapable conclusion that for those who have problems finding a "regular job," freelancing may be the best way to find work and make a living. Let me explain further...

In one case (documented in an upcoming but as-yet-unpublished blog post I wrote for Tom's IT Pro) a former VP of IT at a mid-sized corporation spoke of his desires to reinvent himself as a Windows-oriented programmer. In another case -- documented in an IT Career JumpStart blog post entitled "Does Age Matter When Seeking Employment? Sure, but..." -- I was responding to concerns voiced by readers 55 and over about difficulties in finding new jobs in IT, or garnering promotions, because of advancing decrepitude.

As I've chewed and pondered these matters in the face of my own advancing senescence, I've realized that freelancing enables everyone -- but especially older IT professionals -- to cobble together a collection of paying work that can keep folks going even when conventional jobs may seem unattainable (or at least, supremely difficult to find or land). That's what makes the freelance option well worth considering, especially for those who might anticipate running into obstructions on the path to a living wage, and a workable income.

A screen capture of the Google Plus header for a search on "freelance"

And as I start poking around on Google Plus, I see an extraodinary wealth of materials available there, simply by searching on the word "freelance." Here's a carefully curated sampler of results from my current circles for your consideration (and the display kept changing every few seconds as I was trying to grab some eye-catching entries, so this is a VERY ACTIVE topic):

  1. The Freelance Advisor: "Five freelancer mailing lists you need to subscribe to right now"
  2. "Using Twitter for Freelance Business Research" by David Masters at FreelanceSwitch
  3. 2012 Freelance Industry Report
  4. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (a power freelancer amidst my network of successful freelance writers, consultants, and IT mavens)recommends Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese's The Money Book for Freelancers
  5. The LockerGnome article by Kelly Clay entitled "Seven things to Know Before Becoming a Freelancer"

And that's just a small sample from the hundreds of results that my search returned. The nice thing about taking this approach is that you'll find advice, resources, and information from people in your own personal network, whom you presumably like and trust. This gives it an added bonus of interest and reliability that other searches don't so readily return.